How can my estate avoid probate court?

Perhaps you are in the process of revising or creating estate plans. Of utmost concern is eliminating probate court’s involvement. Though probate court is not entirely avoidable, there are strategies you can use to minimize its involvement to ensure a timely dispersal of your heirs’ inheritances.

Not anticipating potential matters that could arise and interfere with the administration of your estate can lead to delays and litigation. When drafting your plans, consider incorporating a contingency for possible issues that commonly impede the settling of many estate matters, such inheritance disputes, creditor claims, etc. For example, a no-contest clause can help to prevent bogus inheritance claims and help to minimize conflicts.

Incorporate living trusts for asset protection

Consider retitling assets to living trusts. Living trusts enable you to control what happens to named assets without the penalties of ownership. Assets that belong trusts are no longer your property. However, you retain control by providing instructions for the trustee to adhere to when managing the assets.

Confirm beneficiary designations

Having a will that outlines your wishes for inheritance and asset dispersal is good for your peace of mind. However, if it is the only document you have that outlines your wishes, your estate could end up in probate court far longer than necessary if you overlook the beneficiary designations on your financial accounts.

Many financial institutions have separate rules regarding the distribution of deceased account holder assets. The ownership of funds/accounts passes to the last beneficiary on record with the institutions. Failure to update your beneficiaries on your financial, retirement and other important accounts can lead to the wrong relatives benefiting from your estate.

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Kevin Tharpe

With 25 years of experience, Kevin understands how estate planning, special needs planning, and government benefits programs work together. This is a crucial element of a thorough plan. He explains your eligibility for benefits programs and ensures that you do not make costly mistakes that may disqualify you or deplete your assets.

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